Florida Record

Friday, August 23, 2019

Fort Myers attorney disbarred again, this time following allegations of client abandonment


By Karen Kidd | Jun 6, 2019

TALLAHASSEE – Disbarred Fort Myers attorney Joseph Patrick Gaeta has been disbarred for the second time in less than six months following a May 16 Florida Supreme Court order regarding allegations arising from a single client matter.

"Gaeta failed to act with diligence by failing to initiate litigation on his client’s behalf and thereafter abandoning his client," the state bar said in its May 30 announcement of the discipline and the Supreme Court's order. "Gaeta failed to adequately communicate with the client, and he continually failed to comply with the client’s requests for information. Gaeta also failed to respond to the Bar’s inquiries in this matter."

In its single-page order, the high court approved the uncontested referee's report filed in the matter before disbarring Gaeta and ordered him to pay $1,350 in costs. Because Gaeta already was disbarred, the disbarment was effective immediately.

Attorneys disbarred in Florida generally cannot reapply for admission for five years and must pass an extensive process that includes a rigorous background check and retaking the bar exam.

Florida court orders usually are not final until time to file a rehearing motion expires but, in this case, the high court said in its order against Gaeta that no motion for rehearing would be allowed. Filing such a motion would not have altered the effective date of Gaeta's disbarment.

Gaeta was admitted to the bar in Florida on Dec. 31, 2002, according to his profile on the state bar website.

In the most recent allegations against him, Gaeta failed to file and answer to the charges against him filed by the state bar in August and default was entered against him in December and the charges were deemed admitted, according to the referee's report.

The referee found no mitigating factors in the matter and in February recommended Gaeta's second disbarment.

Gaeta was disbarred in December after he allegedly abandoned his law practice and client. Among other things, Gaeta was alleged to have allowed the statute of limitations to expire in 14 personal injury cases without settlement and without communicating the status of the cases to the clients.

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